The Indian government has offered Mauritius a $100 million loan to fund the procurement of Indian-made aircraft and naval security equipment for the Mauritius Coast Guard (MCG).
The deal was signed during the recent meeting between Indian External Affairs minister S Jaishankar and Mauritian Prime Minister Pravin Jugnauth last month.
In terms of the agreement, Mauritius will procure military equipment, including aircraft and patrol boats, from Indian defence equipment manufacturers. In addition, the Indian government will donate a Dornier 228 and loan a single Dhruv helicopter to boost the MCG’s maritime surveillance capabilities.
Jaishankar said strengthening of the economic security partnership would work to the benefit of both countries.
“I am pleased to have witnessed the signing of a $100 million Defence Line of Credit to facilitate the procurement of defense assets by Mauritius. These initiatives underline once again that the security of Mauritius is the security of India, and that the prosperity of Mauritius is our prosperity,” Jaishankar said.
Mauritian PM Jugnauth said additional defence equipment would help the coastguard to secure the country’s territorial integrity and support the rule of law and freedom of navigation in international waters of the South-West Indian Ocean.
Meanwhile, a new report by the Australian National University National Security College says India has begun developing a naval base on North Agalega island which lies about 1 100 km north of mainland Mauritius.
The report said a comparison of two sets of Google Earth imagery taken in October 2014 and October 2020 showed that major airport and port infrastructure development projects are underway.
These include a new airport with an extended new runway, port facilities as well as logistical and communications bases.
“Imagery shows what looks like barracks and fields which could be used as parade grounds or sports facilities located near the north end of the runway. A port is being constructed at the north end of the island, which now includes accomodation for about 430 Indian workers and it is assumed that these will be retained and repurposed once the construction phase ends.
“The latest imagery shows the original jetty in addition to considerable port development that includes two longer jetties stretching closer to the deep water,” the report stated.
The Indian Navy plans to set up a Indian Ocean-wide coastal radar surveillance network with bases in littoral states that include Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and the Maldives to counter the expanded influence of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA-Navy).
It is assumed that the base in Mauritius will help extend Indian Navy maritime surveillance and electronic intelligence gathering over the South-West Indian Ocean. The airport being built on North Agalega is deemed capable of hosting the Indian Navy’s new P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft.